First Impressions: Psyren (manga volume 1)

This series is so brutal and wild
 that the R had to be backwards.
Let me begin this post just by saying this: I am the BIGGEST sucker for a survival horror manga. If it gets published, and it's about hapless people trying to survive in a hostile environment, I'm there. Drifting Classroom? Yep. Battle Royale? Yessir. King of Thorns? Yeahhh. Cage of Eden? Si! The list goes on but you catch my drift. So when I picked up Psyren on a total whim, just based on snazzy cover fonts and a generally good-looking cover, only to discover maybe twenty or thirty pages in that this is survival horror? A beam of light shot from the heavens and melted my core into a liquid lava puddle that was mad about being a puddle, but happy about this manga.

Psyren is a tight series. It's being put out by Shonen Jump, and Shonen Jump don't fool around, not for nobody! They have a reputation, at least in my mind after reading the magazine for years and following several series, for picking up and running with series that don't spend a lot of time with making airtight plots, setup, all that boring stuff. That's because SJ sells their stuff to young boys, and what do young boys want more than anything? Action without context!!! Young girls/other young boys!!! Shoes with lights in them!!! Now, Psyren delivers on one of those, I'll leave that one a mystery for you to read. ;)

As far as Psyren goes, this is decent stuff and a little intense/bleak for the usual SJ fare, which is why I'm vaguely surprised this isn't part of their SJ Advanced collection of manga. A whole bevy of people die, some of which are slightly bloody, nothing shocking really. (when they die later, their bodies turn to ash, guh)

The story basically goes like this. Ageha is a pretty tough high school dude, who will "save people" for money. He's kind of a hitman? (this literally stops after the first chapter, don't get too attached to the arc) And there's the classic ice queen in his class, Sakurako who is pretty and has blue hair and big moe glasses, typical stuff. She needs him, but doesn't want to tell him. He wants to help, but is a little stupid, so he doesn't know how.

Turns out, she needs his help because she's trapped in a scary-ass game with deadly consequences! I'll leave the details for you, but Ageha becomes a part of the game and gets transported to the game world via phone-warping-Matrixing. This is where it gets all KINDS of survival horror. He gets to the world and there's your usual group, a jock, a yakuza, Adrien Brody, that angry chick from Lost , (just kidding, I'm a Predators nerd, sue me) and some other random guys.

Quick advice for newcomers to survival horror, don't get attached to anyone. The whole fun part of authoring survival horror is giving a character depth and empathic tendencies and making them seem permanent and like it's okay to love them...that's usually right about the time a zombie takes a big ol' chunk out of their neck. I hear the Walking Dead comic is notorious for main characters dropping like flies.

Back to Psyren (which is the name of the place they're transported to), Ageha tries to help out the group of idiots he's saddled with but only manages to pull a couple out of the fire of their own stupidity. Psyren quickly becomes a series worthy of interest. The last few chapters are actually really intriguing, so much so that I'm hesitant to write a synopsis because it has a few really cool twists. I went out the next day to pick up volume two, I usually don't buy on impulse but I was really enjoying where the story starts to go (It does not disappoint).

I'll review volume 2 soon, this is definitely a series that could gain a lot of popularity, even outside the fanbase of survival horror. Give it a read and let me know what you think!

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